Monday, February 26, 2007

Its all about the Benjamins

In the process of moving this last week, I was reminded that tucked away in my desk I happened to have a $100 bill and a $50 bill. The $100 was from a time that my roommate hadn't paid me his share of the utilities for a while and paid me with that. The $50 was Christmas money that I couldn't think of what to buy with.

Anyway, just finding that money was really exciting. In fact, I'm now wondering if it was so exciting that its actually worth more than anything I could buy with that money. If I put it in the bank, its gone. Its just numbers in my check register that go up or down when I pay bills and deposit my stipend check. But as $150 cash, they are the potential for any number of things. If I buy something with that money, then that money is gone.

I'm not sure exactly why I feel the way about this money that I do. Is it because $100 seems like a lot of money to spend when its in actual cash? Is it because I have enough money to buy the things I need and enough of the things I want that I don't actually need to spend it? Is it a sign of a deeper fear of commitment?

Oh, and in case you are thinking of breaking into my house and rummaging through my desk trying to find this loose cash -- #1, its not in my desk any more, and #2 -- why would you look for a $100 bill in a desk that has a 19" LCD monitor and a $200 digital camera on it?

Saturday, February 24, 2007


Yes, I'm in. I'm moved in enough to at least get my bed, dresser, desk, new bookshelf, and computer all set up. I think I've only got one or two things left in the old place, mostly cleaning supplies.

I'm forever grateful to all the people who helped this morning. The stuff that it had taken me all week to pile up in my living room was loaded up in cars and trucks in a matter of minutes and my desk survived yet another move. Not sure how many more it has left in it, but it made it through this one and seems to be supporting the weight of my stuff.

Anyhow, if you know me in realspace, feel free to stop on by and help unpack a box or two.

Friday, February 23, 2007

My apologies

I know I've promised you album reviews on Friday, but this week I just haven't had the time to put it together. You should be glad that my computer is still hooked up and hasn't been packed away with everything else that I own.

I got my key to the new place last night and was doing some looking around. Let's just say that its going to feel awful...cozy, compared to my master bedroom here. But I think I can fit what I need to into my new bedroom and then we can find some storage elsewhere in the house for some of my stuff. Let's hope that today's snow has cleared out by tomorrow when I'll be dragging all my possessions out into the weather.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Albums That I Love #12: Let's Face It

Bosstones Lets Face It

The late 90s brought us a revival of the genre known as ska. Basically ska music is a lot like punk music, but features brass instruments, generally trumpets and maybe a trombone. This ska revival brought to light some bands who had been at it for quite some time, but hadn't received much attention. Probably the band who got the most press at this time was The Mighty Mighty Bosstones. In 1997, they released their album "Let's Face It" featuring the smash hit "The Impression That I Get", which got tons of play. But the album itself was also a standout. If you aren't familiar with ska music, this might be a good one to check out, although it is maybe a little on the harder side of ska (Ska-core?). Lets dive into the tracks.

1. Noise Brigade
Not sure what this song is about, but its a good intro to the album. Not too hard, just getting our skank on.

2. The Rascal King
A song about smooth-talking criminal.

3. Royal Oil
I really like the way this song just rolls along, laid-back, just chillin'.

4. The Impression That I Get
Of course this song is the star of the album. Just a great song about tragedy and feeling lucky to not have been through what some people I have. You have to love the way Dicky Barrett just belts out the chorus, and the way the horns and guitars really work well together on this one.

5. Let's Face It
This is a song with a message, and the message is its time to move past racism, and race-related violence. The one time I saw the Bosstones play there were some neo-Nazis in the crowd and Dicky really got after them, yelling at them to be bold enough to come up on the stage and say what they thought, but they refused.

6. That Bug Bit Me
A nice uptempo rockin' song.

7. Another Drinking Song
This is a song about drinking (hence the title), and I'm never completely sure whether its against alcoholism or for it. It definitely starts out sounding morose, but ends up rocking to the finish. Has some great lines: "Gonna dive into a dive I've dove into before, gonna haunt a haunt I've haunted like a million times or more", "Just a devotion to a potion...dedication to a medication", "What I've counted on to pick me up has knocked me to me knees".

8. Numbered Days
Another song with a message, this time about a punk who beats up another kid and then when he's in court, his punk "friends" fail to support him.

9. Break So Easily
Kind of a darker, slower song, but with a great chorus. I'm banging my head to it right now.

10. Nevermind Me
I guess this one has a message. Its about a bum asking for money to buy drugs.

11. Desensitized
Lots of yelling in this one. It seems to be about some kind of tragic event in history that has been kind of forgotten. Not sure what event its talking about. Some kind of assassination, maybe?

12. 1-2-8
The album wraps up with another fun song. Again here the lyrics are kind of cryptic. Something about some cooks making some stew and whats in it? -- "no one's really sure". Rockin' from start to finish, with Dicky taking a break from yelling during the verses to sing the chorus.

Again this is an album that I think works better as a whole than as the sum of its parts. It does a good job of mixing in the harder songs with some lighter fare. It has a great flow and I can listen to this album straight through and have done many a time.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Flat Iron Mesa, near Moab, Utah

This is the photo that I had to sit and look at for nearly 20 minutes while my committee debated whether or not I passed my oral qualifying exams. And I'll be honest, it was a tough 20 minutes. I didn't feel great about the way the last 30 minutes of the exam went and they asked some questions that I didn't really have good answers to. I was feeling like things could go either way.

In the end, they called me back in and told me that I had passed, but they did feel like there were some things that I needed to learn more about and some study design issues we need to address. But I passed. And they signed the paperwork and I have it, so they can't take it back now. :)

One more slow step towards graduation. Feel free to call me ABD.

Monday, February 12, 2007

I could use some Relief

Given that I'm moving in a couple weeks, and that I've been in 4 Elders Quorum Presidencies, I've been thinking about the whole dynamic where people call the Elders Quorum to ask for help moving stuff. I've been involved in tons of these moving projects over the years and I'm having a thought now. If you can call the Elders Quorum to help when you are moving, is it appropriate to call the Relief Society and ask for them to come help? Like to help box up my stuff? or to clean up my apartment after everything's out? or to make sandwiches and lemonade? I know that most sisters have no qualms about calling up the brethren to ask for help in these situations. Would the converse be acceptable?

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Only 4950 tickets to go....

The more things change, the more they stay the same. This axiom is nowhere more true than at your local arcade's ticket redemption counter. Having made my first trip to the arcade at least as early as 5 years old, I've got over 20 years of arcade experience. And the crazy thing is that for the most part the things you can buy with your tickets that you've won playing Skee-ball and Whack-a-mole, and push the quarters over the edge doesn't seem to have changed much in that time. I thought I'd put together a little gallery of the typical prizes you can get for your tickets.

Spider Ring
The spider ring -- always a classic. Not sure why anyone would want a ring that looks like a spider, but I've had my share.

Chinese Finger Trap
The Chinese fingertrap -- the first time I got one of these, I couldn't even get it off my fingers without help from someone else. Not sure what American fingertraps look like, or why the Chinese invented these.

Candy Necklace
The candy necklace -- Those are some pretty high quality candy circles there. I nearly busted a tooth or two on these.

Candy Watch
or if you feel necklaces aren't manly enough... the candy watch -- similar to the necklace but with that gigantic tooth-busting watch in the middle.

Slider Puzzle
The sliding number puzzle -- worst case you can always pry the tiles out and rearrange them correctly.

Bouncy Balls
The bouncy ball -- still fun even at my age.

The popper -- great fun for all ages. Like a time-delayed bouncy ball.

Stencil Ruler
The stencil ruler -- Honestly, who has ever actually used one of these. You can barely fit a pen through those holes and the actual shapes ends up being tiny even in comparison to the tiny shape on the ruler.

Monster Finger Puppets
The monster finger puppet -- These were always great fun for no particular reason. Its just cool to have a monster on your finger.

Plastic Snakes
The levitating snake -- I am still fascinated by these.

Friendship Bracelets
The friendship bracelet -- with neon colors straight from the 80s. Don't let those knots come untied, because nobody knows how to put those back together.

Parachute Men
The parachuting army man -- if only there was some place high enough to throw these from. Usually you just end up wadding up the parachute and throwing the guy into the air and hoping the 'chute opened up enough for him to get some good glide time.

Styrofoam Plane
The Styrofoam airplane - I think we used to get one of these almost every time we went to the planetarium. They actually fly pretty good, and you can make them do loops if you mess with the rear stabilizer wing.

Styrofoam Bird
and its counterpart, the Styrofoam bird -- Personally, I prefer the plane with its plastic propeller nose to this guy, but this one is still fun and if you are more of a nature buff, there's usually at least two different birds to choose from.

and then in the back behind the counter up on the shelf for **5000 TICKETS**....

Ghetto Blaster
the ghetto blaster -- OK, so this one probably isn't still up there on the back shelf, but only because its not even worth 10 tickets nowadays what with everyone owning an ipod. Its not like anyone ever got one of those in real life. Well maybe they did, but it wasn't someone like me who only got to an arcade once or twice a year.

I hope you enjoyed this trip down memory lane as much as I did. I found a couple websites that sell most of these things (and many more) in bulk. I'm sure I left off somethings that you might remember, especially the girly stuff that I always just skipped right past. I'm sure there were some butterfly erasers or something that were popular for the little girls. Feel free to let me know what I've missed in the comments.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Albums That I Love #11: The Hits

Garth Brooks The Hits

Those of you who know me probably know that I'm not a big fan of country music. I was pleased recently to be able to finally fill all 3 sets of preset FM stations on my radio with non-country stations. That said, I grew up in Grantsville, and hearing some country music was inevitable. And since I was able to hear it, I was able to develop some preferences and even have some favorite songs and artists. One of these artists is Garth Brooks, whose album "The Hits" does a great job of giving you the best of Garth. It has a great mix of his slower, pensive, emotional songs along with a great collection of his upbeat, dancin'-and-stompin', havin-a-good-time songs.

1. Ain't Goin' Down (Til the Sun Comes Up)
The albums gets off to a rockin' start with this guitar/harmonica combo.

2. Friends in Low Places
This was a song that I actually knew before I'd ever heard it on the radio. People around me were always singing it, and I thought it must be some old classic the way that everyone would just sing it. Turns out it was just a new classic.

3. Callin' Baton Rouge
One of my favorite Garth songs. Maybe its because I was born in Louisiana, but more likely its just the good fiddle and banjo music. That and Garth belting it out.

4. River
The first of the slower, pensive Garth hits to show up on the album. It gives the analogy of our dreams as a river and us as a boat on that river who is carried along by the dream.

5. Much Too Young (To Feel This Damn Old)
This one is a nice song, but I had to listen to it twice while preparing this review to figure out what it was about. He's a rodeo cowboy on the road and his wife has stopped returning his calls.

6. Thunder Rolls
A song about a cheating lover coming home during a thunderstorm. She's waiting for him. And "he knows that she knows".

7. American Honky-Tonk Bar Association
Back to the more upbeat side of the album for this song about the blue collar, mid-American mindset.

8. If Tomorrow Never Comes
Back to the quiet emotional side of the album. This is a song about treating each day as if it were your last, and making sure you let people know that you love them.

9. Unanswered Prayers
A song that says "some of God's greatest gifts are unanswered prayers". Probably a good point.

10. Standing Outside the Fire
A song about taking risks and putting yourself on the line, and not just standing on the sidelines of life, watching.

11. Rodeo
A good peppy song about the Rodeo and how those Rodeo cowboys are addicted to it. I like it.

12. What She's Doing Now
Thinking about an old lover, its not a good idea. This guy is pretty torn up wondering "what she's doing now?" He called her old number. Luckily no one there knew who she was. Stalker. :)

13. We Shall Be Free
Garth Brooks' anthem to humanity. "When the last child begs for a crust of bread, we shall be free." Free from what? Guilt? I digress. Its a good song.

14. Papa Loved Mama
Another song about a cheating spouse. This time its the wife and when papa finds out its not pretty. Papa was a truck driver see, and he rams his big rig into the motel where mama's cheating and to top it all off, "He never hit the breaks and he was shifting gears." Strangely this is a fun song. Not sure how it ends up like that, but I think its supposed to be fun.

15. Shameless
I can never hear this song without thinking of my neighbor growing up and how he made a video for a girl he liked where he was singing this song. Clearly he was shameless.

16. Two of a Kind, Workin' on a Full House
Another honky-tonk song about getting your family started with his young loving wife. Get it? Two of a kind, working on a full house?

17. That Summer
Kind of a creepy song about a kid who goes to work on a ranch one summer and ends up "becoming a man" with the old woman who owns the place.

18. Dance
Along the lines of standing outside the fire, this is a song about how by living on the sidelines of life you might save yourself some scars, but then you miss out on the great memories as well. "I'm glad I didn't know the way it all would end, the way it all would go. Our lives are better left to chance. I could have missed the pain, but I've have missed the dance."

Its rare to find a greatest hits album with this many great songs on it. Really not a bad one in the bunch. I'm sure some people prefer some songs to others, but definitely this is an album that you can listen to straight through and keep being amazed by the great songs on it.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

If thats moving up...

then I'm moving out.

Yes, its true. In just a few weeks I'll be leaving the friendly confines of Turnberry of Holladay and moving several whole blocks away over to Havenwood of Holladay. Not a huge deal, but it will definitely be a change in terms of having brand new roommates, not being in a complex where lots of singles live, and no longer having my own bathroom (*a tear*).

For the first time in my entire Salt Lake life, I'll be the oldest of the roommates, so maybe that will help me feel old and feel a push to get on with my life. I'll still be in the same ward, so I'll be continuing on as the Executive Secretary, at least for the next few months (Who knows if the typical one year term limit applies to this job? But as Ludacris says, "Do your time, don't let your time do you"). But my hope is that as I'll now be living with guys in my ward again, that I might actually do stuff with them socially and that maybe they'll be around in the evenings. Lately I've started feeling like I live alone, and while I know that some people enjoy that, its not really my bag.

In the interim, my goal is to spend some time on Saturdays de-junking my closet so that I have less stuff to move, and then probably the last week, start packing everything up to have it ready to go for moving day.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Albums that I Love #10: This Desert Life

This Desert Life

If you'll recall, Albums that I Love #1 was August and Everything After by the Counting Crows. Well after I had fallen in love with that album, it seemed like the Crows would never release another album. Finally they did, and basically it was, in my opinion, not very good. It was called Recovering the Satellites, and while it did feature a couple songs I liked, and one that I really love (Long December), basically I thought, "Well I guess August and Everything After was a fluke", and I gave up on them. You'll have to forgive me, because I was still new to the world of music and sophomore albums. Looking back now, its still my least favorite Counting Crows album.

So years later, I found out that the band was still together and making albums. I saw their most recent album "This Desert Life" at the bookstore, but it still took me a good while before I finally decided to check it out. And I'm sure glad I did.

Here are the tracks:

1. Hanginaround
The Crows come out rockin' in one of their most upbeat songs ever. By upbeat, I don't mean that the subject matter is happy or anything. Its just a very jazzy tune that they really rock out with when they play it live.

2. Mrs. Potter's Lullaby
This nearly 8-minute track meanders all over the place. Its a great song, but I can't really find words to describe it. I like the line "the elephants will get out and forget to remember what you said".

3. Amy Hit the Atmosphere
This is more what I expect from the Crows, not that I don't enjoy their upbeat stuff, but this one just feels very classic Crows. It ends with a great refrain of "All I really know is I wanna know, and all I really know is I don't wanna know."

4. Four Days
A pretty good song, I like the sound of the bass (rhythm?) guitar in this song.

5. All My Friends
Another great song, pretty much just Adam singing about regrets and trying to find your way.

6. High Life
Probably my least favorite song on the album. Strangely enough the title of the album comes from this song.

7. Colorblind
Great piano song. "I am covered in skin. No one gets to come in."

8. I Wish I Was a Girl
A song about being on the road and having a girlfriend at home who dreams that you're out their cheating, and how if he were a girl his girlfriend might actually believe him when he says he's not.

9. Speedway
Probably my 2nd least favorite song on the album. Kind of slow and wandering. About thinking about getting out of a bad relationship that you're addicted to.

10. St. Robinson in His Cadillac Dream
This is probably my favorite song on the album. I really love the way the organ resonates. Its got a jazzy feel like Hanginaround. Good bookends to the albums. "I keep thinking tomorrow is coming today. So I am endlessly waiting."

11. Kid Things
This hidden track actually feels like the band loosened up the screws a bit. The production quality is (purposely) a bit lower than the rest of the album. Talking about how love can make you feel and act like a kid sometimes.

Needless to say, this album restored my faith in the Counting Crows.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

In case you hadn't already heard...

Daylight savings time has been changed by a 2005 law and this year it will change the 2nd Sunday of March instead of the 1st Sunday in April and extend into November rather than ending into October.

So I guess, we won't get to hear President Hinckley remind us at the end of Priesthood Session to change our clocks this April. I'm always terrible at remembering. Now that they've switched it I think its going to be even harder to remember.